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Davis Morton finds intrigue in the ordinary

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Art


Art lovers looking for the intrigue of Edward Hopper and the enigma of Vermeer can find both this month in Davis Morton's show at Cudahy's Gallery in Shockoe Slip.

The works of Morton feature people in ordinary settings — on a bench and in bars and restaurants. Just as in a Hopper or Vermeer, often there is a feeling of an intense psychological drama unfolding on the canvas. One can almost hear the subtle background noise of a city or sense the quietude of the landscape.

Morton acknowledges that he finds inspiration from these artists as well as other great masters such as Velasquez and Michelangelo. Morton, though, wants to forge his own artistic identity.

Before becoming a full-time artist, Morton worked as a detective and a police artist for 30 years with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. Morton says his work for the police department does not influence his art, but adds that "everything that a person does is influential in some way."

Self-taught, Morton studied art by observing works in museums around the world. "Formal training takes you in unnatural directions," he says. "It is unnatural for someone to teach you how to paint."

He describes his painting style as "realist impressionist." He does not want to paint reality, he says, nor does he want to render merely an impression of it. "The artist must paint something that is appealing to them," he says. "I think this comes from the subconscious."

Morton is glad to be making a living doing something he loves. "The beauty of a painting is that it takes you to a totally different place," he says, "... it is like living in a different world."

Morton's work is on display at Cudahy's until May

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